A recent study suggests that using cannabis may lead to an alteration in the sperm’s gene for autism. The journal Epigenetics has published this study. And it states that cannabis can bring about changes in the DLGAP2 gene in men’s sperm.
The results of the study have shown that changes in this gene take place by a process known as DNA methylation. And it has the potential to pass on to the next generation.
Using cannabis can bring changes in the methylation of DLGAP2 gene
Nowadays, many countries have legalized the use of recreational and medical cannabis. But the use of cannabis in parents may affect the nervous system of the offspring and cause conditions like autism. The fathers who use cannabis may be using them for two.
This study includes 24 men and 15 rats. And it highlights the ability of marijuana to affect the next generation. The research team has detected a significant hypomethylation at the DLGAP2 gene in the sperm of men who have used cannabis compared to the non-users.
The finding was similar in the case of mice exposed to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The rats born to fathers subjected to THC also had this hypomethylated state in their forebrain. These results may provide little evidence that cannabis can lead to an alteration in the sperm’s gene for autism.
The research team has stated that these results do not define an obvious relation between the use of cannabis and autism. But still, this possible link stresses the need for further study. The team has used quantitative bisulfite pyrosequencing to validate the differential methylation in the DLGAP2 gene for the nine CpG sites in intron seven.
The DNA methylation at the DLGAP2 gene was present in the sperms of male rats exposed to THC. Moreover, the accumbens nucleus of their offspring has also shown the presence of methylation.
DNA methylation can cause a reduction in the expression of DLGAP2
In an earlier study, the research team found many changes in the gene of men’s sperm who smoked marijuana. On the contrary, this recent study has focused on specific genes, especially DLGAP2.
DLGAP2 means Discs-Large Associated Protein 2. DLGAP2 is a gene implicated in autism. And it is involved in neural signaling and the organization of synapse. Besides its link with autism, this gene is also related to PTSD and schizophrenia.
Other discoveries from this study involve a sex-based difference in the link between DNA methylation and gene activity in human brain tissues. In both sexes, there was a decrease in gene activity with an increase in DNA methylation.
But this link was strongest in females, and less maintained in males. At present, the exact reason for this difference is unknown. This variance in both sexes was significant, as the ratio of boys to girls with autism is 4:1.
The association between methylation and the expression of gene changes if the methylation change is passed along to offspring. But the fact that DLGAP2 gene in sperm is functionally important in the brain is clear, in any event. This is the first study that has shown the relation between cannabis use in men and autism in offspring.
It indicates that use the cannabis may lead to an alteration in the sperm’s gene for autism. But due to the small sample size (24 men), this study hasn’t accounted for the confounding factors. And still, these factors like sleep, diet, and physical activity may affect the study results.
3 Coronavirus Myths Debunked
The global pandemic has caused a global lockdown and turned every one to their phones, and therefore social media. However, social media hasn’t been presenting the most reliable information about the COVID-19 pandemic, with its misleading posts.
There are “protective badges” that are marketed around the world, with the claims that it will ward off viruses. Many of the badges also highlight a white cross design. These specific badges are erroneously sold as “virus stoppers” in Russia. A few members of the Russian parliament were also seen wearing it at a recent conference of the State Duma.
The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) however, has called all claims regarding the badges as a safeguard against COVID-19, “fraudulent”. BBC News Russian questioned MP Andrei Svintsov, why he wore the badge. He reportedly said that despite being uncertain about the effectiveness of the badge, he hasn’t contracted any virus. He further added that he has been following all guidelines on the internet (Vitamin C and chewing ginger), true or not, just to be safe.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was reported wearing alike merchandise. However, he confirmed that he was infected with COVID-19 and is currently hospitalized.
A biochemist and Associate Professor at Nottingham University, Dr. Wayne Carter also had something to say. He stated that the badges are ineffective as a protection against COVID-19. He further added that the infection is caused primarily by the inhaled or ingested infected droplets from sneezes.
Cannabis as a treatment
While thousands of articles have been published online regarding cannabis as a treatment, many have made misleading deadlines. It is true that many trials are currently taking place around the world. This includes Canada, Israel, and the UK. All these countries are trying to investigate the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment.
Medical cannabis is already known to reduce inflammation. This useful property could potentially treat cytokine storms that are the deadly immune response sometimes shown by the most infected COVID-19 patients.
However, it is important to recognize that these trials are still at an initial stage. Hence, it would be too soon to form conclusions regarding the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment for coronavirus.
Facebook flagged one of the articles about one Canadian research, due to some misleading information. One of the authors of this research had spoken to the PolitiFact website. The author stated that the headline claiming cannabis as protection against the virus was “an overstatement”.
The potential of cannabis to be used as a treatment for several conditions has gained popularity over recent years, with mixed evidence.
The origin of the virus
There has been speculation online regarding where did the coronavirus first emerge. A Chinese state media outlet recently posted a video. The video suggests that China is not necessarily the origin of the virus solely because the first infected case was reported there.
The video referenced an Italian scientist’s statements n a US radio interview. The interview was regarding the unexplained pneumonia cases in Northern Italy, at the end of last year. The narrator stated that the virus was possibly circulating in Italy before the eventual outbreak in China.
BBC’s China Media Analyst, Kerry Allen stated that the way China has recently increasingly ramped up the rhetoric, it could imply that it is not the origin of the virus. However, there is no scientific evidence for this idea.
It is possible to track genetic information and its course of mutation over time, to date and confirm the origin of the coronavirus.
A molecular epidemiologist at the University of Basel, Dr. Emma Hodcroft had spoken about this matter. She stated that despite the proven possibility of samples in the US and Europe linking back to the initial genetic sequencing in China, these versions have further mutations. She says that there is currently no evidence to support an alternate origin of the virus.
WHO Warns of Mental Health Crisis – COVID-19 “May Never Go Away”
While there have been gradual ease in the lockdown restrictions in some countries, that were originally imposed in an attempt to stop the novel coronavirus from spreading, the WHO has warned that the virus may never be wiped out entirely.
It was warned by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the coronavirus “may never go away” with the prediction by experts about un upcoming global mental health crisis that will be caused by the pandemic.
On Wednesday, predictions of the expected duration of the circulation of coronavirus were warned by the global health body and further called for a “massive effort” to overcome it.
According to the WHO’s emergencies chief, Michael Ryan, this is a new virus that is entering the human population for the first time and consequently, it is incredibly hard to predict how long will it last. He continued that it is important to focus on and understand that it may never go away and be another endemic virus in our communities. He further added that dates and promises cannot be announced for this, and there is ambiguity regarding the virus settling into a long problem.
Another looming crisis was warned, according to a report by the WHO’s mental health department to the UN. According to the department’s director, Devora Kestel, psychological distress could be potentially caused due to the isolation, fear, uncertainty, and the economic turmoil surrounding us.
She further added that an upsurge in the severity of mental illness, with the inclusion of children, young people, and healthcare workers, could be expected due to the present crisis. She continued that due to the severe impact on the mental health and wellbeing of whole societies, owing to the crisis, there is consequently an urgent need to address this.
These statements came in after Russia had 242,271 confirmed COVID-19 cases, making it the second country in the world with the highest number of infections, behind the US with just under 1.4 million. While there are 2,212 COVID-19 deaths in Russia, authorities have ascribed over 60% of COVID-19 deaths in April to other causes. The center of the country’s outbreak being Moscow has held 1,232 of those deaths. However, any falsification of the statistics was denied by Russia’s health minister, Tatyana Golikova.
In the US, according to President Donald Trump, warnings from his top infectious diseases expert were “not acceptable”, regarding the dangers of lifting the restrictions too soon. Furthermore, Anthony Fauci’s caution o the reopening of the economy and schools too soon was indeed surprising for Trump.
According to Trump, he felt that it was an unacceptable answer, especially regarding schools, and that the country has to resume its normal state as soon as possible and it will not if the schools are closed. He further added that the only acceptable situation would be if classes were not held by professors or teachers “over a certain age”.
With the prediction of a “significantly worse” US recession in comparison to any downturn since the second world war, along with present record job losses and wore ahead, by the head of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, the apparent widening gap between the two men came on a day of more sobering economic warnings.
According to Powell’s statement in a webcast speech, the path ahead seems to hold uncertainty and is also subject t significant downside risks. Powell has also rejected the suggested use of negative interest rates to aid recovery, by Trump.
It was cautioned by the US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, how waiting too long for the reopening of the economy, could give rise to severe economic damage, along with the created health impact. Moreover, global infections from the virus have almost reached 4.36 million, which accounted for nearly 300,000 deaths.
Canadian Prime Minister Approves First Clinical Trial for Potential COVID-19 Vaccine
In the existing ongoing research for potential vaccines worldwide, the first Canadian clinical trial has been officially approved by the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, for a potential COVID-1 vaccine. According to the reports by Xinhua news agency, the Canadian Prime Minister, on Sunday at his press conference in Ottawa, had reportedly said that Health Canada had given the green light to the Canadian Center for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University, to begin the clinical trials of the vaccine candidate.
According to Trudeau, production, and distribution in homes, could begin if these vaccine trials prove to be successful. Trudeau added that while it may take time for research and development as it must be done right, this news is incredibly encouraging.
Trudeau has reported that the National Research Council of Canada will be working with the manufacturers of the potential vaccine so that if the trials prove to be successful, it would lead to the domestic manufacture.
There were at least 75,770 cases of COVID-19 that were confirmed as of Saturday afternoon, along with 5,677 deaths in the country. 33 clinical trials have been reportedly authorized by Health Canada, for supportive care or treatments for the COVID-19 up to date. The announcement of the vaccine trial was made on Saturday, and further marks the first Canadian endeavor at finding a vaccine for the disease, that was approved.
The announcement was made several days after the announcement by the health agency, of the first authorized us COVID-19 serological tests, or antibody tests, in Canada.
A collaboration was announced on May 12, of the National Research Council of Canada with CanSino Biologics Inc. (CanSinoBIO), for the further advancement of bioprocessing and clinical development in Canada of a candidate vaccine against COVID-19.
The vaccine candidate is referred to as Ad5-nCoV and is the recipient of the Chinese regulatory approval earlier this year, which in turn allowed the CanSino Biologics to move ahead with the human clinical trials in China.
So far, it is one of only a handful of vaccine candidates in the world against COVID-19, that have been approved for the initial safety test for humans, and was also the first vaccine that had begun the Phase II human clinical trials.
CanSino Biologics and the National Research Council for Canada have brought their respective technologies together, along with their expertise, to come together to fight COVID-19. Furthermore, they are also aiming to pave the way to conduct more clinical trials in Canada in the future, with an expecting collaboration with the Canadian Immunization Research Network at the Canadian Center or Vaccinology.
Moreover, the vaccine is also subject to approval by Health Canada. Furthermore, a Clinical Trial Application is also in the process of being filed by CanSinoBIO. However, much more needs to be done before a vaccine can be made available. According to the Health Canada website, there is more regulatory oversight needed for biologic drugs, in comparison to chemical drugs.
The vaccine, or as referred to the Ad5-CoV, was developed by using technology from both countries, China and Canada. Furthermore, the vaccine was also co-developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology (BIB) and CanSino Biologics Inc. with the use of replication-defective adenovirus type 5 vector, which was genetically engineered. This will be able to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and was grown using the living cells that were designed and developed at the National Research Council of Canada.
A billion-dollar investment in medical research, was made by the federal government, to fight COVID-19, with the inclusion of $23 million for the support of pre-clinical testing and the clinical trials of a potential vaccine in Canada, along with the %29 million for the production of vaccines.
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